WORDS Persophene Nicholas
When property owner David first contacted Guy Allenby of Refresh Renovations Sydney, he was planning to update the bathroom of his investment property after a long-standing tenant moved out. But, as the plans for the new bathroom progressed, the job expanded to include a facelift for the kitchen, updating the electrics and wiring, replacing the flooring and giving the entire apartment a fresh coat of paint.
Guy was keen to get started on the project and says renovating an investment property requires a focused approach.
‘It was a really lovely old apartment in a 1920s apartment block, but very little had been done to it over the last 16 years or so. It was definitely ready for a refresh, but as an investment property, cost-effectiveness was a key driver.’
David, who has a background in design, had plenty of ideas about how to update the unit. He decided on a monochrome theme that was in keeping with the era of the block and would lend itself to classic design choices that would stand the test of time.
White IKEA kitchen cabinetry teamed with elegant black bench tops was the starting point for the new kitchen. White subway tiles with a dark charcoal grout complement its clean lines. Grey timber-effect vinyl is an affordable, easy to clean and hard-wearing flooring choice that was laid on top of the existing linoleum floor, which saved on time and labour costs.
‘The kitchen is very simple, but it will work well for hopefully another 16 years,’ says Guy. The bathroom renovation was a bigger job and including replacing the old bath with a shower, installing a new toilet, replacing the vanity and bathroom cabinet, laying new flooring, and tiling throughout. The fully tiled bathroom features the same subway tiles and dark grout used in the kitchen and took some time even though the bathroom is small.
‘Tiling with small tiles can be challenging. Dark grout requires a very professional finish. It’s painstaking work so you need a very good tiler and it’s not a quick job,’ says Guy.
The other challenge was installing plumbing for a washing machine in a small laundry area beside the shower. The tight budget meant extensive work to install the pipes beneath the floor or within the walls was not an option. So David and Guy’s construction manager, Dimitri Koutsouras, came up with a creative solution – housing the piping within a purpose-built box inside the shower. The box is tiled to match the shower and provides a convenient ledge that ‘disappears’ into the bathroom wall.
With the bathroom now transformed, David says it turned out exactly as planned.
‘The bathroom was the most challenging part of the renovation from a size and cost point of view. The results, which include a modern walk-in shower and a discreet alcove for a washing machine, are exactly what we worked hard to achieve.’
Guy says working with a client like David, who had a strong vision for the apartment, streamlined the decision-making process.
‘David had very definite ideas and an opinion on everything – he even wanted to know what the shower screen brackets would look like. Working with someone like that keeps everyone focused.’
The apartment now looks as good as new and David is preparing to welcome new tenants. He says the renovation totally met the brief.
‘Simple, functional, classic and fresh were the inspirational aspects of what we set out to achieve; and what has worked well is the way we managed to honour the original features of the 1920s building, whilst including the modern details that are essential for contemporary living.’
TYPE OF HOME: Two-bedroom 1920s apartment
PROJECT OUTLINE: Install a new kitchen and bathroom (with laundry), including updating the electrics and wiring, replacing the flooring and giving the whole apartment a fresh coat of white paint.
PROJECT DURATION: 8 weeks - extra time was needed for unplanned rewiring and reflooring
BIGGEST CHALLENGE: Squeezing a laundry area into the small bathroom
BEST DECISION: Creating a tiled ‘box’ within the shower to conceal the plumbing for the washing machine
THE RIGHT WHITE: Walls and picture rails throughout the apartment were painted with Dulux Lexicon Half, a crisp white that helps open up space.
BUDGET TIP: The Hemnes vanity and bathroom cabinet from IKEA are a classic, cost-effective choice.
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